PARIS - Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova survived big scares at the French Open Thursday, both needing to come back from a set down to reach the third round. Williams, 19 times a Grand Slam winner, survived an almighty fright before finally seeing off the challenge of world number 105 Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany.

The 33-year-old, top-seeded American dropped the first set and faced break points against her unheralded 21-year-old opponent in the second, but she rallied just in time to go through 5-7, 6-3, 6-3. "A win is a win, and as long as you live to survive the next day, you can always improve. I know my level is literally a hundred times better than I played today, so I think I take more solace in the fact I can play better as opposed to the fact that that's the best I could play. Then I would be in trouble," Williams said.

She will next face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus who eased past Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3. Fourth seed Kvitova made it through to the last 32 with a 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2 win over Spain's Silvia Soler-Espinosa. But it was another nervy showing from Kvitove who was taken to the limit in her opening match against New Zealander Marina Erakovic.  Fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki was packing her bags for home after the Dane lost 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to an impressive Julia Goerges of Germany. German 10th seed Andrea Petkovic had stared defeat in the face only to bounce back from for a 4-6, 6-4 6-4 win over Lourdes Domínguez Lino. Sara Errani also had to claw her way back from being down to defeat German youngster Carina Witthoeft 6-3, 4-6, 6-2.

Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova played the third longest women singles ever in the French Open. It took them 3 hours 50 minutes before Schiavone staggered past the winning post and into the third round 6-7 (11/13), 7-5, 10-8. Another seed to fall was No.12 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, who lost to Andreea Mitu of Romania, but American Sloane Stephens showed again she is returning to something like her best form by ousting Britain's only representative in the main draw, Heather Watson, 6-2, 6-4 in just 70 minutes.